Date: 25th March 2017 at 5:11pm
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Ninth-placed Mansfield Town visited the Globe Arena seeking to inflict Morecambe`s sixth loss in a row on them and get revenge for their home defeat against the Shrimps last December. In the past, it has been pretty Even Stevens between the two clubs with Morecambe winning five and losing four of the nine previous encounters.

It took only four minutes for the Derbyshire side to take the lead on a bright Spring day by the seaside when Danny Rose met Alex MacDonald`s pass from the right wing with a half-volley from fourteen yards out which gave Barry Roche in the home goal no chance at all. Morecambe didn`t find themselves behind for long though and Paul Mullin equalised just two minutes later when he chased a punt from Roche downfield which Kyle Howkins failed to deal with and managed to turn the ball past Jake Kean in the visitors` goal. The play swept from end to end on a heavy pitch as the half progressed and Aaron Wildig put a shot just over the bar after eight minutes only for the Stags` MacDonald to do the same thing at the opposite end after fourteen minutes. Michael Rose was the next to put an effort over the bar after a quarter of an hour and Shaq Coulthirst might have done better when, having robbed Dean Winnard of possession after nearly twenty minutes, the ball stuck under his feet on the claggy surface. The Stags` feisty Scottish manager Steve Evans and his assistant Paul Raynor have a deserved reputation for causing trouble on the sidelines and referee Robert Jones wagged his finger at both of them after twenty-four minutes for noisily disputing one of his decisions. As the visitors dominated the play, Joel Byrom was blocked by Michael Duckworth 30 yards from goal with a crude challenged which earned the Morecambe man a yellow card after a half an hour. Straight after this, Byrom slung a cross towards Rhys Bennett at the far post which the Stags` Captain only just failed to connect with. But the visitors were not to be denied for much longer and in the thirty-third minute, Ben Whiteman played Rose in after namesake Michael the Shrimps` skipper had failed to clear the ball and Dan the Man hit a shot which squirmed under the arm of Morecambe`s big Irish goalkeeper to re-establish Mansfield`s lead: from Morecambe`s point of view, it was a very poor goal to give away. Seven minutes later, they went even further ahead when Coulthirst led a counter attack, cleverly held the ball up in the Morecambe penalty area and then squared it into the path of Whiteman who coolly slotted into the bottom corner of the net after sixteen minutes. The Shrimps huffed and puffed a bit after this and Andy Fleming had a couple of half chances but the visitors returned to their changing rooms at half time with a well deserved two goal lead.

Having presumably received a warm reception from Jim Bentley at half time, Morecambe came out of the blocks quickly in the second half and Kean did well to push a shot from Wildig round the post within a minute of the re-start. In fact, the Shrimps had three corners in rapid succession when play re-commenced but none of them amounted to any real opportunity for the home team. At the other end, MacDonald robbed Luke Conlan of possession after fifty minutes and fed the ever-dangerous Danny Rose who drew a fine save from Roche this time from twelve yards. Mansfield`s Rose then turned provider a couple of minutes later when he fed Whiteman who then failed to find the well-placed Coulthirst. But the Stags` number 32 overdid it after 55 minutes when he fouled Rhys Turner and had his name taken by the referee. The visitors almost extended their lead after an hour when Mal Benning had a shot blocked; Roche fumbled Whiteman`s effort from the rebound and then Coulthirst blasted the loose ball over the bar. There were a few more half chances for both teams but Morecambe could have reduced the arrears when Kevin Ellison headed wide when well placed from substitute Luke Jordan`s excellent cross after 81 minutes. In reality, however, the Stags were clearly happy to just run down the play and hold on to what they had – which was three relatively easy points.

The win consolidated Mansfield`s position in ninth place. Morecambe, by contrast, have failed to pick up a single point from the last eighteen that have been on offer. They have fallen to nineteenth in League Two as a result but the even worse form of Leyton Orient and seemingly hopeless position of Newport County – despite recent improvements, they lost again today – will probably guarantee their place in League Two next season. Assuming, of course, that the club still exist. It will be interesting to see what the new Supporters` Trust – officially launched at the ground later this evening – will do to change things as far as Morecambe`s appalling financial position is concerned in the near and longer term future. More power to their elbows: the club needs a new direction and fresh blood in the Boardroom – before it is too late.

Morecambe: 1 Barry Roche; 16 Alex Whitmore; 6 Dean Winnard; 14 Luke Conlan (10 Lee Molyneux 75 mins); 19 Michael Duckworth (Y); 17 Andy Fleming (21 Antony Evans 68 mins); 18 Rhys Turner (17 Luke Jordan 65 mins); 24 Michael Rose(C); 7 Paul Mullin; 15 Aaron Wildig; 11 Kevin Ellison (Y).

Subs not used: 20 Nial Maher; 8 Peter Murphy; 2 Liam Wakefield; 3 Aaron McGowan.

Mansfield Town: 21 Jake Kean; 2 Rhys Bennett (C); 3 Mal Benning (Y); 7 Shaq Coulthirst; 10 Matt Green (11 James Baxendale 80 mins); 15 Kyle Howkins; 16 Hayden White; 18 Alex MacDonald (8 Alfie Potter 86 mins); 26 Joel Byrom; 28 Ben Whiteman; 32 Danny Rose (Y) (17 Yoann Arquin 77 mins).

Subs not used: 12 Brian Jensen; 6 George Taft; 24 Jamie McGuire; 22 CJ Hamilton.
Ref: Robert Jones